Trivandrum, the southernmost big city of India, always had a big footprint in Indian classical music. A google search for King Swathi Thirunal will provide a window to his vast contributions as one of India’s foremost classical composers. If we look at the present music scene, the city has a vibrant cultural calendar, with performances and festivals around the year. There are a huge number of aspiring musicians in the city, who are taught by teachers in the Indian classical music tradition.
However, what is lacking is any good music academy for skill development in Western instruments and vocal, which can create world class musicians. This despite having a large western tonal music appreciating audience as well as the huge and economically significant Indian movie industry, which uses tonal music as its base. We do have a few teachers at Trivandrum, who are not yet formally qualified by any established music academies of world repute but have a substantial student base. Add to that, the fact that there is no philanthropy oriented schools for economically challenged or differently-able students, who want to explore music as a fulfilling profession.
This is not the case with just Trivandrum alone. The whole of India has just two or three good quality Western musical instrument schools and none of them in South India. The ones that are there in Mumbai (NCPA in particular), are considered to be the best organized and has a very good track record of attracting and training great students. We are trying to replicate that success in Trivandrum.
Five of us have come together to start a world-class Academy for Western Instruments and Vocal skills development in Trivandrum, India, called Trivandrum Academy for Western Music (TAWM). Our vision is of an Academy that will provide the most advanced training in India, for Western Orchestral Instruments and vocal. We expect to commence operations by mid-June 2018.
We have the good fortune of having the guidance of Maestro Marat Bisengaliev, the internationally reputed, distinguished violinist, conductor and orchestra trainer. The Faculty consist of musicians hand-picked by Mr Bisangaliev. Each musician has a degree from some of the best conservatories in Europe.
We visited a few European conservatories for talks in assisting us with an affiliation, because such an affiliation can help us provide our prospective students with better value for their academic qualifications, as well as provide a path for advanced studies in the field of music. The talks have not produced the results we expected, primarily because of our status as “a startup academy”.
The aim of our Academy is to identify and coach on a one-to-one student-musician basis:
Anyone of any age, who wants to learn or improve a musical skill
Very young talented beginners from ages 6 to 12 for long term courses.
Intermediate students of all ages, who have already reached a certain level of proficiency and wish to commit themselves to attain Comprehensive Musicianship levels, that normally would have needed them to train abroad.
40% of the students would be from underprivileged and special-needs background and teach them under a grants scheme provided by corporates or private philanthropists.
The Academy will commence initially with Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano, Saxophone, Flute, Guitar and Voice. More instruments and also more musicians per instrument shall be added gradually, depending on the market demands, as also based on grants we receive
The building for the school is at a prominent city-center location and has been upgraded, soundproofed and air-conditioned. Our aim is to provide a happy and rewarding work environment for these wonderful, worldclass musicians, so they are comfortable in India and can focus on the skills development programs. Hence we provide medical insurance, housing, daily transportation and also annual airfare to their homeland, free of cost to the teachers.
Hoping to inspire serious musical students from India to great heights!
Satish Kamath, Hari Gopinathan, Jelaja Kumari, Mohammed Bashir and Raju Harilal